Smooth Sailing: Keep Your Law Firm on Track While You’re on Vacation

As an attorney or legal manager, you probably pride yourself on the hours you devote to your demanding, yet rewarding career. Unfortunately, if you’re like most legal managers, you may be overlooking an essential part of work-life balance: vacation.

Before you decide to skip the holiday this year, you may want to check out the following research on the benefits of vacation. 

Human resource professionals polled in a 2013 study overwhelmingly agree that fully using vacation days contributes to higher employee performance and productivity, boosts organizational morale, and promotes employee wellness and retention.

Taking time off not only boosts your productivity level and job satisfaction when you return to the office, it also gives you an opportunity to see how well the firm runs when you or other critical team members are out.

Ready to hit the road for a little R&R? Here are five management tips to keep your law firm running smoothly while you’re sipping mai tais on the beach:

1. Schedule your vacation as far out as possible.
If you schedule your vacation three to six months in advance, you’ll have plenty of time to clear your calendar, get organized and arrange for any additional attorney staffing that’s needed. And as soon as you know your vacation dates, inform your team members, so they can prepare too.

2. Designate a point person.
Choose a trusted, reliable and willing coworker, attorney or supervisor to act as your backup to handle any crises that occur while you’re gone. Then add that person’s contact information to your out-of-office email response and your voicemail greeting, so clients and coworkers know whom to contact. 

3. Get organized.
Carefully organize your cases and other projects, so files can be located easily while you’re away. Make sure your backup person has access to all this information and knows where case files are stored.  

4. Don’t leave work behind.
Of course, the fastest way to tick off colleagues is to dump half-finished projects on their desks as you head out the door. So be sure to wrap up everything you can before you leave. Your point person is there for emergencies only — not to do your work for you.

5. Turn to a legal employment agency.
If you’ll need additional staffing to fill in while you’re away, get help from an agency like Robert Half to help fill in the gaps. Agencies can supply experienced legal professionals to assist with temporary project needs, as well as time-sensitive legal projects that require specialized expertise. Staffing can include contract attorneys, paralegals and legal project managers.

Whether you’ve been dreaming of setting sail for a tropical getaway or hitting the road for a cross-country road trip, take our management advice and book that vacation! Not only is it important for law firm management staff to take plenty of vacation time — you should encourage all of the other employees at your firm to do the same. After all, vacation keeps everyone productive, well rested and happy.

What management advice can you offer for vacation preparation? Share your tips in the comments.

Tags: Summer